Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sarasota VII. by Lo Galluccio

Sarasota VII.
By Lo Galluccio
2008; 57pp;Pa; Cervena
Barva Press, PO Box 440357,
W. Somerville, MA 02144-3222.

Review by Hugh Fox

A lot of personal, intimate, chatty info here, always brush-stroked with masterful artistry by writer-singer-you-name-it artist Lo Galluccio, one of the most interesting geniuses on the artistic scene today. And all the personal business always contextualized inside a sense of ultimate cosmic disaster: “THE BLACK HOLE ITSELF...CANNOT BE SEEN. WHAT IS BEING OBSERVED PRESUMABLY, IS/THE CONGREGATION OF STARS ORBITING THE GALACTIC CORE AND BEING PULLED TOWARD THE CENTER BY THE BLACK HOLE’S RELENTLESS GRAVITY.....” ( #16, p.17).A strong sense of sensuality/sexuality but always in a context of, if not cosmic , then personal darkness: “In a bar called Lola’s. Your eyes dilate. ‘I have to get out of here,’ you say. We left. We walked silently to the yellow house where I stayed in that kissed me. Again and again. So you might suck the essence of me into the storm of your stomach...You wanted me to sleep with you, to dispell your ghosts.” (#15,p.15)There’s no one on the current writing scene more powerfully reality-creating than Lo. Under her power the page becomes not just a talking screen but Reality Itself. You’re there, all the days and nights, flights and fights, always in not only a cosmic but a Time-Present-Moving-Into-Future context: “There will come a point in time when words will be inflicted on computer screens by brain waves. Will love be inflicted similarly, onto a face by a compulsion of eyes.” (ee, p.50). You read Gallucio and you walk away with your whole world-view transformed. The provocative sensuous Now contextualized in an an All-space of ultimate grief. A must-read!

Review of POEMS OF MADNESS & ANGEL By Ray Bremser.

(Ray Bremser, Charles Plymell and Grant Hart in front of Allen Ginsberg's
farmhouse at the Committee on Poetry, Cherry Valley, NY, August 1998.
Photo by Betsy Kirschbaum. © 1998 Water Row Books.)

Review of POEMS OF MADNESS & ANGEL By Ray Bremser. Published by Water Row Press Sudbury, Mass.

The Back Beat of Bremser. — Charles Plymell

Post War America grooved on the big band era. (Krupa was no slouch). The golden age of sound was hitting every major city. Charley Parker practiced his sax in a shack across the tracks in Kansas City. The great sub-culture was growing from hep to hip to bebop tossing seeds to hip hop. The great Lord Buckley laid down the word riff when scat was pre-natal rap. Jazz heads and Benzedrine made the scene while ageless rounders, pimps, whores, ex-cons, street-wise youth and creative kids ventured toward the iconic “angry fix” and things illegal. Ray Bremser was already a member of that bohemian sub-culture. His Hoboken nose broken profile and Jersey flat land rasp was the perfect voice and look for Hollywood casting. He was proud of his presence.

Naturally, he uses the vernacular of the time to begin a philosophical soliloquy, “So let me lay it to you gently, Mr. Gone!” And, continues sarcastically, in his poetic brilliance, to explore his humanity, his history; and ends with, “It is a little / let us say, too much, man too much!” The language here needs to be appreciated in it own flavor, its own freshness, to savor its import and save it from cliché. In that setting, the familiar jive is literary ... yes, Shakespearean. It would probably take an actor now to restore the familiar charm and sound of a Bremser or a Huncke in their day. To etymologize further… the words and jazz in the culture of that time. When Huncke hitchhiked into town and repeated a common refrain: ”Man I’m beat,” it was quickly picked up by alert middle-class students of the avant-guard to define a generation of poets and writers. When people talk of the veracity and authenticity of figures like Ray Bremser and Herbert Huncke in the Beat Generation, I think of them as having been entrenched in a rudimentary sub-culture from which whole generations could derive and be named.

In this respect, I think Bremser adopted the beat influence and lifestyle as a later and much welcomed shelter from the street to which he could contribute his provenance. It is obvious in his Poems of Madness that he spent a great deal of scholarly time alone with the poetry of Hart Crane, Pound, and Shakespeare. He doesn’t try to disguise them as his own, but writes as an equal with a healthy influence one can detect; for instance, from the surreal inspiration of Hart Crane:

For I have strung up streamers
and inhaled a wild unpatriotic rebel attitude
of position out of the air where life begins/
confetti and cascades of violent pure-bred hair!

If Shakespeare were to appear, he would thoroughly enjoy the figure here, as would Chaucer. The image/idiom is timeless as well as the philosophical inquiry:

Shit up a rope, for all I care,
But watch how
sometimes, when the horizontal dreams
of a little life gone hither come to bear
dualities of weight over the head.

Bremser can uncannily tweak the prosody and myth a bit to go from Pound to perfect pitch:

saw Anubis & terror
saw motion of witchery there,
saw bone of filthy embalmer
saw seven league boots on the feet of those birds
more soarey than Bela Lugosi

And if the academic mainstream non-poets of numb nuts and nothingness don’t like it, he leaves them with something less absurd:

take your museums, marijuana!!!
stick them in high & go haywire....

--Charles Plymell

*Ray Bremser (February 22, 1934 – 1998) was an American poet.

Bremser was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. When he was 17 he went AWOL from the United States Air Force and was briefly imprisoned. The next year he was sent to Bordenstown Reformatory for 6 years for armed robbery. He began writing poetry there and sent copies to Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and LeRoi Jones who published his poems in "Yugen" and threw a big party for him when he got out of jail in 1958.

He had five books of his poetry published and featured in a film, The Beat Generation: An American Dream (1987) IMDb.

He died in 1998 of lung cancer.

As part of the Beat Generation, Bremser was strongly influenced and mentored by Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, as he illustrates with his catchy language and rhythmic motion in Poems of Madness."

He was the best reader of his own work I ever heard and taught me much more than the Iowa Writers Workshop. I let him sleep on our couch when he was temporarily homeless, but this upset my wife as he didn't bathe. He had no teeth and said he could eat everything but a peanut. He didn't drive. When I put on Soft Machine 6, he hated it. He preferred Be-Bop and claimed McCoy Tyner would "play" his poems on the piano. Will Schmitz

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ibbetson Street Poet Linda Larson author of "Washing the Stones" to read at Lesley University Apr. 29 7PM

Lesley Seminars, Lesley University and
The Center for Photographic Exhibitions of the New England School of Photography

A Sense of Place
An evening of word and image with
photographer Vaughn Sills and poet Linda Larson

This collaboration offers photographs and poems that display the artists' unique experience
of the American South and sense of place.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
7:00 pm
Lesley University
University Hall
2nd floor Amphitheater
1815 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA

The presentation is free and open to the public

**See Sills photograph and Larson poem below or click:

Somerville Community Access TV Hosts public discussion with two major African-American Poets: Afaa Michael Weaver and Major Jackson

Somerville Community Access TV Hosts public discussion with two major African-American Poets: Afaa Michael Weaver and Major Jackson (click on title to view film)

A public discussion titled from “Do Woop to Hip Hop” was filmed at the Somerville Community Access TV studios, April 2, 2009. The discussion, moderated by Gloria Mindock of the Cervena Barva Press, and produced by Doug Holder of the Ibbetson Street Press, was an exchange between poets Afaa Michael Weaver and Major Jackson. Weaver (58), a professor at Simmons College and Pushcart Prize winner, and Jackson (40), the editor of the Harvard Review and author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection “Hoops”, discussed their lives and influences. Weaver discussed his years growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, the civil rights movement, his mentors, and his development as a writer. Jackson discussed his early years growing up in Philadelphia, his involvement in the city’s vibrant art scene, the strong influences of the family and church, his 16-year relationship with his mentor Afaa Michael Weaver, and other notable poets. Both men revealed much about the struggle to survive amid the turmoil of the inner city and the realization of themselves as artists. The program will be aired on Somerville Community Access TV throughout April and beyond, and clips from the interview will be online in the near future. Bill Barrell (the director of the film), and Wendy Blom, executive director of SCAT, were impressed with the quality and import of the discussion and will be nominating it for a Community Access TV award. Barrell, who has extensive experience in commercial TV in Boston, likened the discussion to a PBS production. He pointed out Mindock’s skilled and insightful queries, and the two poets breadth of knowledge and artistry. This is a program I feel will be of use to students of poetry and literature in years to come and I am proud to have played a part in it.

American Income

The survey says all groups can make more money
if they lose weight except black men…men of other colors
and women of all colors have more gold, but black men
are the summary of weight, a lead thick thing on the scales,
meters spinning until they ring off the end of the numbering
of accumulation, how things grow heavy, fish on the
ends of lines that become whales, then prehistoric sea life
beyond all memories, the billion days of human hands
working, doing all the labor one can imagine, hands
now the population of cactus leaves on a papyrus moon
waiting for the fire, the notes from all their singing gone
up into the salt breath of tears of children that dry, rise
up to be the crystalline canopy of promises, the infinite
gone fishing days with the apologies for not being able to love
anymore, gone down inside Earth somewhere where
women make no demands, have fewer dreams of forever,
these feet that marched and ran and got cut off, these hearts
torn out of chests by nameless thieves, this thrashing
until the chaff is gone out and black men know the gold
of being the dead center of things, where pain is the gateway
to Jerusalems, Boddhi trees, places for meditation and howling,
keeping the weeping heads of gods in their eyes.

Afaa Michael Weaver
Previously published in Poetry magazine

Urban Renewal

ix. To Afaa Michael S. Weaver

Bless your gnarled hands, Sir, and their paternal blues.
Tonight Kala grazes a palm over a battered face,
feeling his new-born features in a Correctional zoo.
The shock is permanent like the caged primate
who suddenly detects he—s human. A HOMO ERECTUS
stands upright on guard outside his cell.
For the record, good friend, tropes are brutal,
relentless, miraculous as a son—s birth. KING KONG—S
memoir gets repeated on the evening news
like a horror flick, and everywhere dark men
are savagely ambushed. So, when a woman strolls
towards a homeless BIGGER, the audience
tenses up involuntarily beneath a cone of light.
This is the work of blockbusters: Kala—s groan
twisting on a steel cot, and by morning—s sunlight,
your cramped hand. Pages pile to a tome
on a kitchen table; its defense is three-fifths
human, two-fifths man. I await its world premiere;
till then, when the soul hears of black guards who strike
harder, the brain goes arthritic, tropes proliferate,
and a wide screen blooms with images of heavy-weights
whose gloved-hands struggle to balance a pen.

--MAJOR JACKSON ( Post Road)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Icehouse & Thirteen Keys to the Talmud by Hugh Fox

By Hugh Fox
Crossing Chaos enigmatic ink
Copyright 2009
p. 290

“Independence is, in essence, the ability to
within the perimeters of one’s own psycho-sexual
frontiers, enough release and satisfaction
to completely fulfill the genetic demands of one’s
inner-outer nature.” P, 39

Thus we have the “philosophical” ethos of a madly expansive, hyper-erotic, almost porno story of a couple living together in carnal over-drive --- clinical, surreal, intense and obsessive – in paradoxically, an icehouse. It’s a wildy funny, brilliant cosmic

Flambeaux, flambeaux Mrs. Mouse (the character who is, according to Fox in the introduction, based on his “sexiest second wife.) carries the flaming torch of lust through an “all mica-crystal-gleam-white.” Her unnamed partner in one episode pulling from her uteruis/cunt “large wet, slippery slices of fresh liver (12 slices.) p. 27 proceeding to fillet them to a “light brown.”

Food and sexual devices (like candle stubs) are just some of the catalogues of objects wall-papering this icehouse of perverse domesticity. Fox creates amazing juxtapositions of pop icons and acquaintances in a quest for an original imaginative aura:

“But it still wouldn’t come. Valentino (3 ulcers and a hernia), John Wayne,
Tarzan, King Kong, Great Dane (Lauritz Melcior, age 43 – Tristan), George
Raft, Bob Taylor, Clark Gable…in the MISFITS, blonde (her) down in the desert
(sand) and Clark Prick (motorized) driving into .putt….putt…putt….putt….the smell of peroxide semen wetting down the sand, writing (snack-prick), squaring-
circles, hypotenusing long, dry brown horizons.” P 41

CAPS, Dadaistic compound nouns invented for sound glory and nonsense, popping up parentheses…..these punctuation quirks are ALL OVER THE PLACE and
they frankly tickle the reader like a flamingo feather.

Cinematic, paradoxical, and rebelliosly conflating mysticism and sexuality, rage and adoration for ancestors, the stupid utility of everyday objects and their aesthetic/masturbatory value – Hugh Fox has brewed something that both beat William Burroughs and futuristic William Gibson would seriously envy. The one genius trait that Fox possesses is a very canny and strange sense of humor which pervades the work. Like a drug-trip of hallucinatory sex-candy, “Icehouse” swings the reader with a runaway vengeance of excess and extreme wisdom for how banal and bestial human life is. (Wrapped up in black lace and stalking in black suede fuck-me boots….)

It’s peppered with catalogues of states and appliances and nature scenary which usually lead to a sublime existential awareness:

“Tension building up. Short wave, long wave, FM, cybernetic, TV. Alternating.
Wind rubbing a close-to-the house oak tree arm against the roof, like a squeaky
Shoe, cosmic giantess out-in-the-snowstorm-moan.
The Manhole Covers:

“We know it’s coming and although it’s late,
we know that all we can do is wait….” P 1

Sort of like Godot.

Not that there aren’t allusions to sin or attempts at martyrdom: in one Fellini-like episode, we’ll call him Mr. Mouse, self-immolates….there is talk of saints and these are profound and deliberately mixed up contradictions from a genius writer who spent the better part of his writerly education steeped in Bukoswski, ancient civilizations, watching avante-garde cinema and working on underground magazines, in addition to taking cosmic gurus.

“(In the Hochscule of St. Mary Margaret Damian of the Bleeding Tit,
showering with long white “shifts” or in private stalls, private inside private
inside private, Chinese (highest church) box-puzzle minds, froze-through nights
of suspended disbelief in anything but Ice Christ hovering in the black air,
waiting to icicle down into the midst of her soft purity, to reward her (maximally)
with the Stigmata of the Bleeding Tit.) p. 53

In his in his intro to The Ghost Dance Anthology (1968-1993/4) Hugh Fox writes:

“I call (us) the Invisible Generation. We weren’t “Beats,” although we all had
great affinities to the Beat Generation. It’s tempting to call us the Hippy
Generation because we were kind of “Hippyish.” Our drugs were soft,
our world-view non-linear, non-occidental….. We lived inside the Great
American Dream Machine always dreaming our own alternative dreams.”

Fox writes with brilliant word-play, so prose and poetry intermesh and limericks emerge from other descriptions of scenes and characters, like Grandmother Gemultlichkeit:

“So goodnight little pumpernickel<
Sleep tight as an icicle<
If you never wake again,
It’s the same as if you’ve never been….”
P 61

Afterwards, Mrs. Mouse shits fistfuls on Grandma’s portrait and 12 other portraits too. Her narcissus/Dionysian/philosopher fucking savior then leaves her with a “fart at her with a haughty expression of who-needs-ya jam spread across his mug, and POOF! Disappeared. P. 58

But he still loves her, returning. And in the end, they are “fresh start – churning, churning (eyes closed) churning ---“ p 74

On peyote or not, I adore Fox’s zone in this book. The Icehouse is both a frozen tundra of cerebral observations and sensory details out of place and perfectly in place and a hot house of weird sex. A must-read.

Unfortunately, the voluptuous free verse of Icehouse left me incapacitated to review the companion piece to this book: “Thirteen Keys to Talmud.” Fox was raised steeped in Catholicism – Christ seems to be both a restraining martyr and also the son of a Sun King, a prophet – and then discovered his true Jewish ancestry.

Fox dedicated the 214 page novella to his mentor, Menke Katz, “who gave me the foundations.” And to Chris (his grandson?) to whom he credits the motivation for writing the book in the first place. It looks like a fascinating work of mysticism, replete with mathematical equations and charts. For those who don’t want to dive into the maniacal porn aspect of Icehouse, I suggest they read this. (There is also a more logical narrative – dare I say linear? – to follow.)

His epigraph is a beautiful poem:

“There is no blade of grass in this whole
world that doesn’t have a star guarding
it so that it should never vanish.” P.75

French poet Rene Char once wrote, “There is no absence that cannot be replaced.”

I think Hugh Fox would agree philosophically with this, but for me there will never be another Hugh Fox.

Lo Galluccio for Ibbetson St. Press